The Centre on Tuesday stated that the statement of Amnesty International that it was being subjected to an “incessant witch-hunt” is unfortunate, exaggerated and far from the truth. The Union Home Ministry asserted that human rights cannot be an excuse for defying the law of the land.
An official MHA statement said that all the “glossy statements” about humanitarian work and speaking truth to power are nothing but a “ploy to divert attention” from their activities which were in clear contravention of laid down Indian laws.
The statement read, “Amnesty International had received permission under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) only once and that too twenty years ago (19.12.2000). Since then Amnesty International, despite its repeated applications, has been denied FCRA approval by successive governments since as per law it is not eligible to get such approval.”
“However, in order to circumvent the FCRA regulations, Amnesty UK remitted large amounts of money to four entities registered in India, by classifying it as Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). A significant amount of foreign money was also remitted to Amnesty (India) without MHA’s approval under FCRA. This mala fide rerouting of money was in contravention of extant legal provisions,” the MHA added.
Owing to these illegal practices of Amnesty, the previous government had also rejected the repeated applications of Amnesty to receive funds from overseas, it said. “This had led Amnesty to suspend its India operations once during that period as well. This bipartisan and purely legal approach towards Amnesty, under different governments, makes it clear that the entire fault lies in the dubious processes adopted by Amnesty to secure funds for its operations,” further added the statement.
“All the glossy statements about humanitarian work and speaking truth to power are nothing but a ploy to divert attention from their activities which were in clear contravention of laid down Indian laws. Such statements are also an attempt to extraneously influence the course of investigations by multiple agencies into the irregularities and illegalities carried out over the last few years,” the MHA stated.
“Amnesty is free to continue humanitarian work in India, as is being done by many other organizations. However, India, by settled law, does not allow interference in domestic political debates by entities funded by foreign donations. This law applies equally to all and it shall apply to Amnesty International as well,” it added.
It also stated, “India has a rich and pluralistic democratic culture with a free press, independent judiciary and tradition of vibrant domestic debate. The people of India have placed unprecedented trust in the current government. Amnesty’s failure to comply with local regulations does not entitle them to make comments on the democratic and plural character of India.”
Earlier in a statement Amnesty International had said that the complete freezing of Amnesty International India’s bank accounts by the Government of India which it came to know on September 10, “brings all the work being done by the organization to a grinding halt”. It added, “The organisation has been compelled to let go of its staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work. This is latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organizations by the Government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations.”